Marshall Field and Company (now Macy’s)
111 N. State Street
Marshall Field and Company has a long and illustrious history in Chicago. For those of us who live here, special memories come to mind when we think of Frango Mints, the Walnut Room, the Great Christmas Tree, the gigantic clock and of course, the magnificent windows. The windows trace their roots back to the early days of Marshall Field’s. The store was founded in 1852 primarily as a dry goods store. As it grew, it became more diversified and soon became known as a “Department Store” showing various products right out on the floor…actually displaying the price and advertising product line right in the aisles…imagine! In 1897 Arthur Fraiser, Field’s display manager, first pioneered the concept of Christmas toy displays in the windows. The public loved it. They became a predominant destination for those coming into the city…and a boon to State Street. The window designs continued through World War II when the Field designers devised “theme windows” that would span State Street …and tell a story along the way! The Great Clock was installed on the Marshall Field’s State Street Store on November 26, 1897. Marshall Field envisioned the clock as a “beacon that could be seen for miles”…that would draw people into the store. It Did! Norman Rockwell immortalized the famous clock on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on November 3, 1945 (notice the $.10 cost). The painting shows a repairman on top of a ladder adjusting the clock to correspond with his own pocket watch. In 1948, Rockwell donated the original, “The Clock Mender” to the store.
Between 1892 and 1914, the 12-story granite building went through several stages of development, and sections were added to the building in 1902, 1906, 1907 and 1914. Charles B. Atwood of Burnham & Company, designed the two main sections along State Street (The north building built in 1902 and the south in 1907). Unfortunately, he died before the buildings were built. Shopping at Field’s has always been an innovative experience. They were the first to use escalators in a department store, provide personal shopping assistants, offer a bridal registry, provide in-store dining facilities and initiate a policy whereby the store would refund the full price of any merchandise purchased if not completely satisfied! Macy’s, Inc. acquired Marshall Field’s on August 30, 2005. The Chicago flagship store was officially renamed Macy’s on State Street on September 9, 2006. Marshall Field died in 1906… at that time annual sales topped $60 million, and buying offices were opened in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Stockholm and Berlin. His organization had become the largest wholesale and retail dry goods company in the world!
On the side….
The original painting by Norman Rockwell was first donated to Marshall Field and Company in 1948 and later gifted to The Chicago History Museum in 2006. It is estimated the painting is worth over $1million.